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Wilton Lawyer Gets 2.5 Years In Prison For Mortgage Fraud

WILTON, Conn. – A 50-year-old Wilton man and former real estate attorney was sentenced Friday to 30 months in a federal prison for his role in a $4 million Fairfield County mortgage fraud scheme, the U.S. attorney’s office reported.

Joseph Kriz, who was also a licensed mortgage broker, partnered with former Westport resident William Trudeau Jr. in 2005 to purchase, develop and sell properties by defrauding banks and mortgage lenders, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

In total, Trudeau, Kriz and several other co-conspirators fraudulently obtained more than $4 million in mortgage loans to purchase six properties in Westport and Newtown. The loans were obtained by using false income information on the mortgage loan applications. To date, mortgage lenders have lost more than $1.9 million, the statement said.

Their intent was not only to develop and sell the properties for profit, but to also pay off debts owed to other lenders from whom they previously obtained high-interest loans, the statement said.

Additionally, Kriz stole about $3.5 million from his Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) in order to service the various loans he and the others had taken to secure the properties, and Trudeau defrauded private lenders of more than $1 million, the statement said.

Kriz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, fraud in loan and credit applications, and mail fraud in August 2008. He cooperated during the investigation and testified at Trudeau’s trial, the U.S. attorney’s office said. 

Last October, a jury found Trudeau guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. In February, he was sentenced to 188 months—or nearly 16 years—in prison.

Kriz was sentenced Friday in New Haven by U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall. After his two-and-a-half year prison sentence, Kriz will be on supervised release for three years.

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